I wrote ‘Sanggang - the BA’s wake-up call’ (READ HERE) 13 years ago back in April 2000. In March 2004, I wrote ‘Crowds don’t translate to votes’ (READ HERE). Basically, these articles were about the fallacy that if there is a huge crowd at your function or event then this means these people support you.
I have been trying to tell the opposition this for more than a decade and it appears that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has discovered this over the weekend. The huge crowd at the Chinese New Year gathering cum PSY concert in Penang cannot be translated to a show of support for Barisan Nasional. The crowd was there for a free concert, not to support Barisan Nasional.
This is the nature of Malaysians. If there is a free meal they will be there in hordes even if they hate you. I personally saw thousands of people at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Hari Raya open house in 2006 -- many of them, in fact, non-Malays. And some even brought bags and plastic containers to tapau the food, the Chinese equivalent of a doggie bag.
It was actually most embarrassing and I saw that Dr Mahathir pretended he did not notice this was happening (my wife, Marina, shook her head in disgust). But how can you not notice your guests emptying the tables and pouring the food into bags and plastic containers? Were they there because they loved Dr Mahathir or were they there because they wanted to plunder the table and bring enough food home for a whole week?
And that is why it is very difficult to get Malaysians to stop patronising the gaming outlets or to stop buying fast food, etc. (even though gambling and fast food are bad for you). They will scream about all sorts of things and then they will give their business to businesses owned by Barisan Nasional cronies and financiers. As much as we tell them that by making these people rich they are also making Barisan Nasional rich these people refuse to listen.
And this is one thing that is most puzzling about Malaysians. They say one thing but they do the opposite of what they say. They scream about corruption and about why we need change and then they will suap a policeman to avoid paying a fine for a traffic offence. They will scream about how bad the government is and why Malaysia needs change and then they will absorb all the corrupted Barisan Nasional politicians into the opposition Pakatan Rakyat.
Probably this is the way Malaysians have been brought up by their parents. For example, if I hated Najib I would never attend his Chinese New Year open house even if the food is free and Elton John was going to sing at that open house. I would vote with my feet. I would boycott the event on point of principle. I would never show support by attending his open house and then say that I hate him and am not there because of him.
The funny thing is, these people who hate Najib and yet attend his Chinese New Year open house are the same people who accuse others of having no principles. Don’t you find that hilarious? Apparently they do not understand what the word ‘principles’ means.
And we are entrusting the future of the country in the hands of these people and are hoping that they will make the right choices and do the right things. I think we need at least 30 years or more before we can reach the stage where Malaysians can walk the talk and practice what they preach.
There were some comments posted today by those who do not like what I write that said I have lost their respect. Honestly, do you think I am so concerned about the respect of people who do not respect themselves by attending a Chinese New Year party of someone they hate?
Do you know that I happened to be in Canberra, Australia, at the same time that Najib was in town and I was invited to the official lunch in honour of Malaysia’s Prime Minister? I politely declined the invitation and explained to Senator Nick Xenophon that if I attended that lunch it would mean I support Najib since the lunch was in his honour. You should have seen the smiles on the faces of the SABM Australia lads who agreed that by attending the lunch this would mean I am ‘endorsing’ Najib.
(I met the Senator to ask him to support Bersih, which he did. He actually went to Kuala Lumpur during the Bersih march to show support and the Malaysian government was pissed big-time).
But then that is me and I look at things differently compared to most Malaysians who can hate you and then come to your party. If everyone thought like me then there would have been a Chinese New Year party with no crowd and Najib would really have been embarrassed. Now Umno can always say that that video recording (of the crowd screaming ‘no!’) was doctored like the ones of Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali (don’t we always scream that videos are doctored?).